(Prayer: This Criminal Petition is filed Under Section 438 of Cr.P.C., seeking to enlarge the Petitioner/Accused No.5 on Anticipatory Bail in the event of his arrest for the alleged offences punishable Under Sections 406, 409 and 420 of IPC in Chigateri P.S. Crime No.4/2020 on such terms and conditions as this court deems fit.)
1. The petitioner/accused No.5 is before this Court seeking to be enlarged on anticipatory bail in the event of his arrest for the offences punishable under Sections 406, 409 and 420 of IPC in Chigateri Police Station Crime No.4/2020.
2. On the basis of the complaint filed by the Chief Executive Officer, Taluka Panchayat, Harapanahalli, the respondent-police have registered a case under Crime No.4/2020 on 16.01.2020 for the above said offences. The case of the petitioner/accused No.5 is that he had contested for Gram Panchayat election during the 2014-2015 from Mattihalli village in Harpanahalli taluk, wherein he was elected. On 09.03.2018, he was also elected as President of the said Gram Panchayat.
3. It is alleged that on account of some of the ill-wishers of the petitioner, a suo moto enquiry was conducted and accordingly a report dated 31.12.2019 by the Chief Accountant (Accounts Officer, Zilla Panchayat, Ballari) addressed to the Chief Executive Officer, Zilla Panchayat, Ballari, was submitted on 31.12.2019 indicting the petitioner and several other Officers of the said Gram Panchayat. The allegations in the said Enquiry Report are as regards non-furnishing of vouchers, non-furnishing of documents for certain payments and it is alleged that a total liability of Rs.45,96,368/- has been incurred by the Gram Panchayat on account of the said actions on the part of the petitioner/accused No.5 and other accused persons.
4. On the submission of the Enquiry Report, a show cause notice came to be issued to the petitioner under Sections 43(A) & 48(4) of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj & Panchayat Raj Act, 1993 seeking explanation as to why he should not be removed from the post of President of the said Panchayat.
5. Thereafter, on the basis of the aforesaid report of the Chief Accountant, Zilla Panchayat, a complaint came to be filed as detailed above.
6. Ms. Sumangala A. Chakalabbi, learned counsel for the petitioner would contend that, the said enquiry report has been challenged before this Court in W.P.No.138417/2020 and this Court vide its Order dated 30.07.2020 has granted interim stay till the next date of hearing, staying further proceedings in pursuance of the Enquiry Report dated 31.12.2019. On that basis she submits that, when the Enquiry Report itself has been stayed, the question of going ahead with the further investigation would not arise, the petitioner apprehending of his immediate arrest in the matter and if he is arrested it would have a consequence on his life and liberty and as such, she claims for allowing of the petition and to grant anticipatory bail.
7. Ms. Sumangala A. Chakalabbi submit that, the petitioner would co-operate with the investigation, he would make himself available as and when required before the Investigating Officer, he will produce all and necessary documents as may be called by the Investigating Officer and further that the petitioner would not in any manner tamper with the documents and other witnesses.
8. Per contra, Ms. Seema Shiva Naik, learned HCGP submits that, there are serious allegations against the petitioner who, as a President of the Gram Panchayat has involved himself in several illegal activities resulting in exposure of nearly Rs.46 lakhs to a small Gram Panchayat. She submits that, the entire running of the Gram Panchayat by the petitioner/accused No.5 has been only to make self gain and not for the purpose of public service. On account of the alleged crimes committed by the petitioner/accused No.5, the interest of the State and also public interest is adversely affected. She further submits that, the Investigation is still in progress. This being a serious offence and the petitioner continuing to be the President would have access to all the documents pertaining to the said Crime and therefore in all likelihood, the petitioner is likely to tamper with the said evidence and the witnesses to the crime. Therefore, the petitioner ought not to be enlarged on anticipatory bail.
9. Heard Ms. Sumangala A. Chakalabbi, learned counsel for the petitioner, Ms. Seema Shiva Naik, learned HCGP for the respondent/State and perused the papers.
10. It is not in dispute that the entire complaint is based on the Enquiry Report submitted by the Chief Accountant, Zilla Panchayat, dated 31.12.2019. It is also not in dispute that, the said Enquiry Report has been stayed. In such circumstances, the arrest if at all made of the petitioner would have serious repercussions. The submissions made by Ms.Sumangala A. Chakalabbi would allay the apprehension on the part of the learned HCGP. Having regard to the above, I am of the considered opinion that the petition as filed seeking for anticipatory bail needs to be allowed. Hence, I pass the following:
The anticipatory bail petition filed by the petitioner/accused No.5 herein under Section 438 of Cr.P.C. is allowed. The petitioner/accused No.5 is ordered to be released on bail in the event of his arrest in Crime No.4/2020 of Chigateri P.S. relating to Crl.Misc.No.5046/2020 pending on the file of III Addl. District & Sessions Judge, Ballari, sitting at Hosapete, on the following conditions:
(i) The petitioner shall furnish a personal bond for a sum of Rs.5,00,000/-(Rupees Five lakh only) with two solvent sureties for the likesum to the satisfaction of the Trial court;
(ii) The petitioner shall be regular in appearing before the Court on every date of hearing as also when called upon to do so by the trial Court;
(iii) The petitioners shall furnish list of immovable property held by him to the said Court.
(iv) The petitioner shall not tamper with evidence or cause any threat to any of the prosecution witness/s
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in any manner. (v) The petitioner shall appear before the Investigating Officer as and when called and submit all documents and details as may be called upon by the Investigating Officer. (vi) The petitioner shall not leave the jurisdiction of this Court without prior permission. (vii) In the event of violation of any of the above terms, the above bail shall stand automatically cancelled. The observation made above is only for the purpose of consideration of the application for bail and the same shall not in any manner influence the trial. The trial Court shall dispose of the matter on merits without being influenced by this order.